With the plan to run beyond marathon distance this year I thought it would make sense to give some serious thought to race nutrition. So far in my racing I’ve gone with the standard gel approach and in general I’d say it’s been successful. I’ve found which brands I like the taste of and don’t affect my stomach so know I can rely on that strategy. Although I did learn at the Scotland coast to coast that my body needed more than just gels when going for such a long time.
But the one issue I have with gels is that they aren’t necessarily the purest things to eat and when you spend the rest of your time trying to eat as clean as possible it feels a bit odd to do the opposite in a race. Of course the big advantage of gels is they are convenient, they’re easy to carry and deliver a good hit of carbs for not much weight or volume.
Most other alternatives such as homemade energy bars are inevitably more bulky and if you have to carry them with you for 5 or 6 hours then that bulk and weight is going to have an impact. So I was quite intrigued listening to the Kinetic Revolution podcast a few weeks ago where they had an interview with the founder of 33 shake Warren Pole.
Warren is developing a range of energy products based on completely natural ingredients, His approach to the products is very similar to how I approach my eating in general which is to eat food that is fresh, not processed and as natural as possible. The company started by producing a shake that can be drunk like a smoothie but more recently a chia energy gel.
It all sound intriguing so I ordered a few to try out (note I spent my own money here, this isn’t a sponsored post although I wouldn’t say no to some free ones…). The gels are little pouches of chia seeds along with a couple of other minerals which you simply add water too and leave for 10 minutes. You can make up in advance and let them sit with the water (or fruit juice) added or in theory on a longer run/race you could take them dry so lighter and add water later.
I’ve been using them for the last couple of weeks on my long runs to see how they perform. I’ll be honest and say the texture is a little weird, there is definitely an element of chewing needed to take them and you do get the seeds stuck in your teeth a little. But so far they seem to be working well, there is zero stomach problems which is always important and so far I’ve felt strong and energetic while running.
I prefer them made up with some apple juice rather than just water to add a bit more flavour and also like leaving them overnight before using so they get nice and soft. The square shape is probably a little harder to carry on a run but works fine given I use a pack on most of my runs. I can imagine they’d be harder to fit on a gel belt etc though.
Price wise they stack up reasonably well compared to most gel brands, slightly more expensive maybe but you would expect that given the quality and ingredients. But I don’t use gels unless doing more than 90 minutes anyway so it’s not as though I get through lots every week.
I think I’ll keep trialling them a bit longer along with some other products but they’re definitely on the short list.
Anyone else have recommendations for gel type products that are more natural?